Interesting tagging nuance


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Interesting tagging nuance

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feb. 25, 2013, 2:53pm

I was poking around today and found something interesting:

There's a very clear-cut distinction in usage here, and the numbers are large enough (approximately 4,400 usages by 1,000 members for each) that I think it actually holds up - the former is primarily used for books for adults, the latter on kids' books. It's not universal, and there's some cross-talk, but it's quite striking. The lists are disparate enough, in fact, that the two tags don't show up as "related" on each other's pages. I wonder if school units on "black history month" account for this, or if there's something else going on here?

feb. 25, 2013, 4:14pm

This is very interesting. I checked most of the users. There are a large number of evangelical home schoolers (largely in North Carolina and the mid-West), a couple of schools/kindergartens, and some Canadians (who by and large are using the tag for adult books), and a book store in New York.

Since "black" is the politically correct term in Canada, that usage is clear.

The book store made me wonder if this is the term used by BISAC and the home schoolers are pulling it from there as well?

jul. 24, 2013, 8:39pm

As for BISAC, it depends:

SOCIAL SCIENCE / Black Studies (Global)
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
CULTURAL HERITAGE / African American
TOPICAL / Black History
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / African American & Black see Cultural Heritage

jul. 25, 2013, 6:46am


Surely black history is a larger field than African American History?

It would cover the black diaspora populations outside the USA for example as aulsmith indicates. Black history is the term used in the UK too - African American wouldn't be a good term when talking about the Empire Windrush for example.

jul. 25, 2013, 7:12am

4: Totally. But people from the US tend to unthinkingly use African American to describe anything that relates to the African diaspora (and some times even to people in Africa). So I (and I think lorax) was expecting the difference in the tag usage to US vs. the rest of the world. Instead it seemed to be mostly a US distinction between adult books and children's books. (Haven't checked the tag again today. It could have shifted.)

jul. 25, 2013, 9:21am

4, 5>


I'd have been expecting "African American history" to be a subset of "black history", more or less. I can't find any geographic reason to have the adult/kid split.

jul. 25, 2013, 9:31am

Yes, and that's fascinating.

(On an anecdotal level: I vaguely remember a black British Olympic champion interviewed by an American reporter about a decade ago, getting miffed over this. Something like "I am not African American. What is British African American supposed to mean anyway? I am NOT American". It was very amusing.)

jul. 25, 2013, 9:37am

Here's a thought. It's the associational influence of black history month. Black history month is primarily honored in schools. Teachers and parents thinking about books used as readings during black history month tend to tag those book "black history" even if they would more commonly use the polite term "African American history" in other circumstances.

jul. 25, 2013, 12:26pm

8: That makes a lot of sense.

Editat: jul. 25, 2013, 1:20pm


Yeah, that was my best guess up in the original post, too.

jul. 25, 2013, 1:33pm

>10 lorax:.
So it was. Well, since I didn't read your first post carefully enough to see that, we can at least say that we came to the thought independently :)

jul. 25, 2013, 2:13pm


Great minds think alike!

jul. 26, 2013, 7:18am


Kriss Akabusi as part of the 400m relay squad. It sort of went like

"So Kriss, as an African-American, what does this mean to you"
"I'm not American, I'm British"
"Yes, but as a British African-American ..."
"I'm not African. I'm not American. I'm British."

Akabusi was well known for being a bit of a joker too - so wasn't helping the poor American reporter out no matter how flustered she got.

jul. 26, 2013, 9:44am


A former colleague who was an immigrant from Tunisia liked to refer to himself as "African-American" just to mess with people's heads.

jul. 26, 2013, 9:51am

Beautiful ;-)